We believe that in many cases, companies can evaluate how well they're doing on their own -- without the aid of an outsider. Our book, Sales & Operations Planning: The Self-Audit Workbook was developed with that in mind. However, companies sometimes want an outside view of how they’re doing with Sales & Operations Planning.
Our assessment process differs sharply from the conventional approach. Its focus is to position the company’s people to perform a self-assessment of the their S&OP processes and how effective these processes are in balancing demand and supply, linking strategy to tactics and executioin, and enabling the business to be run with one set of numbers.
The basic tool used in the assessment is the book mentioned above: Sales & Operations Planning: The Self-Audit Workbook. The company’s people are the content experts; they know the business, the customers, the products and the people. The Workbook serves as the process expert; it highlights the managerial, procedural, and technical points involved in S&OP. Thus the company’s people, using the Workbook, do the “heavy lifting” for the assessment process:
* asking the questions
* digging into the details
* formulating responses to the questions
* summarizing the results
* developing plans for improvement, to correct the issues identified by the assessment
We believe this user-centric process is far superior to the conventional approach, which calls for outsiders to play a dominant role. When the company’s people do it themselves, the assessment process can raise positive energy and enthusiasm – necessary for the hard work required to make things dramatically better.
A question arises: do the company’s people know enough about how the S&OP processes should work to do an effective assessment? Sometimes the answer is yes. In some companies having used S&OP for some time, the people may be sufficiently knowledgeable so as not to require education on the processes and periodic guidance from the outsider. Hence, no outside involvement is necessary.
However, many companies are new to S&OP or they may find that their people simply don’t know enough to conduct the assessment effectively. They need to learn about S&OP, and this is done via education provided by an outside expert. They also need periodic guidance from the S&OP expert – to ensure that assessment is proceeding properly, and to authenticate and validate the findings.
That’s how we support assessments. We provide the initial education and the periodic guidance. This approach works. And it keeps the company’s people where they need to be: right in the center of the improvement initiatives.